JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, RANDOLPH, Texas -- Maj. Christina Hopper, a traditional reserve T-38 Instructor Pilot with the 5th Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, will be one of the 10 marathon runners representing the nearly 70,000 Air Force Reservists in the 20th Air Force Marathon Sept. 17 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Hopper, the first African-American female fighter pilot to fly in war, is certainly no stranger to perseverance and hard work. She was a cross country district track champion and a regional qualifier. She was part of a University of Texas at Austin Southwest Conference Champion swim team. She’s competed in several half marathons, a couple of 10Ks, one marathon, one full Ironman, three half Ironmans, three Olympic distance triathlons and three sprint triathlons. Yet with all these accomplishments on her resume, she still remains humble and considers herself as fairly new to the sport of running.
“I was actually a competitive swimmer for 14 years. I took up running as cross training for my swimming,” said Hopper. “I was recruited to run for the cross country and track team in high school in San Antonio, Texas. After that I started competing all the time. Running is my therapy. When I am struggling with something or stressed, running is a sort of therapy, some people hunt or fish, some people bake or knit, I run.”
Hopper said her relationship with God guides everything she does. She said she runs because it gives her joy and when she’s running she can center her thoughts, turn down the world, be quiet and just let go and talk to God.
“Early in my life I experienced challenges that probably many biracial children do, but when I got into sports much of that evaporated – when you are competing, your team mates care about how hard you’re willing to work and how much you contribute to the team’s victory.”
Hopper said her faith gave her the strength and courage to overcome struggles and helped her gain an early sense of her self-worth, which has sustained her throughout her life and motivated her to want to be the best in everything she does.
She received an academic scholarship to the University of Texas where she was on the swim team. She also joined the ROTC. After her first semester, she was awarded an ROTC scholarship and decided that’s where she wanted to go with her career.
Her military service includes flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon in more than 50 combat missions during the Iraq conflict. She received four Air Medals and the Aerial Achievement Medal for her bravery.
Maj. Hopper is a wife and mother of three. She said that keeping everything moving requires a delicate balancing act. She finds being a part-time pilot and a full time mother sometimes hard, but very rewarding.
“I have a very full and busy life, which gets challenging at times but anything worthwhile is going to be a challenge,” said Hopper. “I wouldn’t change a thing because whatever the highs and lows were they have made me who I am today. I am in a position as a Christian, a woman and mother, a fighter pilot and a runner to be a mentor and a role model for other women; and, to show them that with hard work, faith and a strong sense of self anything is possible.”
The 5th FTS is part of the 340th Flying Training Group, the reserve associate to the 12th Flying Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. The 340th FTG supports Air Education and Training Command’s specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Joint Primary Pilot Training, Pilot Instructor Training, Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, Basic Military Training, and the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Airmanship Programs.